Tennessee faces its toughest test of the 2013 season in Week 9, when it takes the field at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday against No. 1-ranked Alabama.
The Volunteers just knocked off South Carolina last weekend, shocking the Gamecocks 23-21 at home, thanks to a 19-yard field goal by Michael Palardy with nothing but zeroes on the clock.
With the win, Tennessee improved to 4-3 on the season, but nobody outside of the team's locker room expects another upset this weekend against 'Bama.
The Crimson Tide have been rolling through this year's schedule with ease. Since taking care of business on the road at College Station early in the year, Alabama has gone on an absolute tear, winning each of its last five games by 25 points or more.
Nick Saban's defense has been shutting down opposing offenses with stunning efficiency, allowing just 16 points in those five games.
When: Saturday, Oct. 26, at 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Betting Lines (via Covers)
- Over/Under: 52 pts.
- Spread: Alabama (-28)
Tennessee Injury Report (via USA Today)
|Allan Carson||DL||Ques Sat - Undisclosed - 10/20/13|
|Jacob Gilliam||OL||Ques Sat - Undisclosed - 10/20/13|
|Maurice Couch||DL||Ques Sat - Eligibility - 10/20/13|
|Curt Maggitt||LB||Ques Sat - Knee - 10/20/13|
|Michael Williams||DB||Ques Sat - Undisclosed - 10/20/13|
|Riyahd Jones||DB||Ques Sat - Calf - 10/20/13|
|Ryan Jenkins||WR||Out for season - Knee - 9/19/13|
|Trevarris Saulsberry||DL||Early Nov. - Knee - 9/17/13|
|Joseph Ayres||TE||Out for season - Knee - 9/14/13|
Alabama Injury Report (via USA Today)
|Dakota Ball||DL||Ques Sat - Undisclosed - 10/20/13|
|Ryan Kelly||OL||Ques Sat - Knee - 10/20/13|
|Dalvin Tomlinson||DL||Ques Sat - Knee - 10/20/13|
|Wilson Love||DL||Ques Sat - Concussion - 10/20/13|
|Alvin Kamara||RB||Ques Sat - Knee - 10/20/13|
|Vinnie Sunseri||DB||Out for season - Knee - 10/21/13|
|Nick Perry||DB||Out indefinitely - Shoulder - 9/25/13|
Can Tennessee Score on 'Bama's Defense?
When Texas A&M scored 42 points against Alabama in a losing cause early in the year, the Aggies also totaled 628 yards in that contest. Even counting that game, the Crimson Tide have allowed just 9.7 points per game (best in the nation) and just 275 yards per game (No. 5 in the nation).
Johnny Manziel and the Aggies scored six offensive touchdowns in that game, but Alabama has surrendered just two other touchdowns in its other six games.
Making matters worse for Tennessee is the fact that 'Bama's defense has been getting better and better as the season wears on, allowing just over three points per game since the game against Texas A&M.
Tennessee doesn't exactly feature a high-powered offense, either.
The team's best offensive attribute is its ability to run the ball, averaging 201.7 yards per game on the ground. Unfortunately, Alabama is particularly adept at plugging up running lanes, allowing just 3.26 yards per carry.
Quarterback Justin Worley isn't a particularly dynamic quarterback, but he'll need to have a brilliant game passing the ball if Tennessee has any hope of scoring enough to win this game.
Alabama's roster is loaded with the top players in the nation at nearly every position.
This team is so incredibly balanced from top to bottom—offense, defense and special teams—that it would take an all-out collapse to facilitate an upset.
Which team will win?
Whether it's A.J. McCarron throwing the ball to Christion Jones and DeAndrew White, T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake running the ball or 'Bama's defense making a big play to turn the ball over, the Crimson Tide will find a way to come away with a win at home this Saturday against Tennessee.
Only a perfect storm of incompetence suddenly surfacing during the game for the nation's top team will facilitate a second upset in a row for Tennessee.
Alabama wins 42-13
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78